Bernard Lord, CEO of Medavie and former premier of New Brunswick, is part of the International Federation of Health Plans. Members of the insurance and health sector from all continents meet twice a year.
Specialists are invited to present advances in healthcare. “We learn a lot,” says Lord. For example, governments in other countries have used private companies to help solve public problems: problems with congestion in emergency rooms, access to medicine.”
He says that Canada is often compared to what is happening in the United States. Yet other models exist in countries that have very similar values to ours, says Lord.
“Specialists have told us how many lives have been saved, how many complications have been avoided, thanks to new models. He urges the Canadian industry to open its mind and look at what is happening elsewhere in the world.
In addition to demographic challenges, governments face difficult financial situations in many cases, says Lord. Canada is no exception.
Debt, combined with the aging population, will put significant pressure on public systems, says Lord. “Canadians expect to have services in spite of this,” he adds.
Even though governments are injecting funds into health, the private sector is expanding, says Lord. He cites the Canadian Institute for Health Information which has reported that 30 per cent of the health sector in Canada is private and 70 per cent is public.
Medication will continue to put pressure on group plans, he says. “The health care system had a break over the last ten years with the arrival of new generics that have taken over from the original patented drugs. With pharmacogenetics, another wave is coming. We will have to adapt,” says Lord.
Medavie says it has been successful in reducing some costs, such as disability, with better practices related to following up with employees. “We are also exploring ways to track medication, to measure the effects and benefits,” says Lord. "I saw people in California with a bracelet that warns them when it’s time to take their medicine. It’s important to keep an open mind. We need to innovate not only in technology and pharmaceuticals, but also in our thinking.”